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Academic Stress;Cultural Coping;Heritage Langauge;Structural Equation Modelling;Thematic Analysis


Ben Kuo



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Coping is a set of behaviours that enable stress management. Traditional theories of coping have examined engagement coping and avoidant coping, but recent work has begun to shed light on culture-specific collective coping strategies. Collective coping varies between cultural groups, but generally helps preserve well-being and reduce psychopathology by affirming an individual’s connection to the rest of their cultural group. Experiments testing this model show that collective coping partially explains the relationship between academic stress and well-being. Language plays a vital role in both the transmission and preservation of cultural information. Given the role of language and communication in regulating the flow of cultural information, one would predict that an individual’s ability to engage in culture-specific coping behaviours would be affected by their linguistic proficiency in their heritage language. In summary, collective coping is theorized to mediate the relationship between academic stress and well-being, and heritage language proficiency is predicted to moderate the effect of collective coping. To test these hypotheses, a multilingual and culturally diverse sample (n = 296) was collected from university campuses in Ontario, Canada. Participants completed a survey that included questionnaires examining academic stress, cultural coping, collective self-esteem, and subjective well-being. The survey also included short-answer questions asking participants to describe collective coping behaviours they use, and their experiences of their heritage language. Structural Equation Modelling was used to test the model for cultural coping. It showed that collective coping mediates the relationship between academic stress and well-being/collective self-esteem (RMSEA = .055 (< .08). Structural Equation Modelling also showed that the addition of a language proficiency moderator variable fit the data (RMSEA = 0.077), and improved overall model quality. Responses to the short answer questions were qualitatively coded. The results showed that participants relied on family, spirituality, and community elders to engage in collective coping. The results also showed that participants who are proficient in their heritage language reported a sense of authenticity and connectedness with their community when afforded the opportunity to speak in their heritage language. Conversely, participants who lacked proficiency in their heritage language reported feeling a sense of embarrassment and dislocation with respect to their heritage language. The results of this project have strong implications for multicultural clinical practice and language revitalization efforts.